NATCA Salutes DOT Secretary Ray LaHood for Term Marked by Safety
Thursday, January 31, 2013
On Tuesday, Jan. 29, NATCA saluted Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood after he announced his resignation.
"Secretary LaHood has been an extraordinary leader,” NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said. “He worked to restore fair collective bargaining rights for air traffic controllers and other aviation safety professionals, fought hard for furloughed FAA employees in 2011, and strongly supported the birth, growth and success of NATCA's collaborative relationship with the FAA.”
Rinaldi emphasized that Secretary LaHood has served during the safest period in aviation history.
“His leadership and his intense focus on safety has been an inspiration to all of us and we have been proud to serve in the DOT during his tenure,” Rinaldi said. “We thank him, congratulate him on a job very well done and wish him the best in his future plans.”
Below are some notable excerpts from speeches and other remarks by Secretary LaHood pertaining to NATCA and the aviation safety professionals the union represents:
April 30, 2009; Washington Aero Club Speech
“I have some good news to share. As you all know, there are some long-standing issues between air traffic controllers and the FAA.
“One of my highest priorities, since coming to DOT, has been to resolve this issue so that we can move forward to make our commercial aviation system even better than it already is. I'm fully aware that air traffic controllers do an extraordinary and essential job on behalf of the flying public. They don't always get a lot of credit for their work.
“So I'm pleased to tell you that Jane Garvey, whom you all know, has agreed to oversee two mediators who will be responsible for solving the contract dispute. Jane is a terrific public servant with a great deal of expertise when it comes to aviation and we are fortunate that she is willing to take on this challenge.”
Aug. 16, 2011; FastLane DOT Blog
“During the partial shutdown that furloughed 4,000 FAA employees and affected 70,000 workers in construction and related fields nationwide, the Hughes Technical Center was especially hard hit. Almost 650 employees at the Center were furloughed for almost two weeks, and hundreds of contractors received stop-work orders that prevented them from doing their jobs.
“These are hardworking, dedicated professionals on the front lines of developing many of the NextGen technologies that will completely revolutionize our air transportation system and get passengers to their destinations more quickly and with a smaller carbon footprint. I need our employees at work every day and America needs them at work every day.
“We're working with Congress to ensure that our employees receive back pay for the time that they were furloughed. Congress owes it to our workers, and I am urging them to make sure this gets done as soon as possible.
“While I was in Atlantic City on Friday, a number of employees took a moment to thank me for speaking out on their behalf and helping them get back to work. One woman even said she was worried about my blood pressure and thought I should swing by the city's famous beaches to relax for a bit. But the way I see it, the real thanks goes out to all of our employees who show up to work hard for the American people every day. They're the reason we have the best aviation system in the world, and I'll continue to do my best by them.”
Feb. 1, 2012; Speech at NATCA's Communicating for Safety in Atlanta
“The reason I wanted to be here this morning is to say a big, big thank you to all of you. On the day that I testified and was being considered three years ago by the United States Senate at the Commerce Committee, I offered some testimony and the first sentence of my testimony, and in just about every speech I've given in three years, I have said that safety is our number one priority. You all have been great partners in that.
“We have the safest aviation system in the world because of all of you. You all are well-trained, you take your jobs seriously, you're professional, you guide planes in and out of airports, day in and day out. And you do it with the highest level of professionalism. And that's really what my message is today; thank you for what you do to make sure that America has the safest and the best aviation system in the world.”
To view Secretary LaHood's full speech at CFS, introduced by President Paul Rinaldi, please click HERE.
Dec. 19, 2012; Interview with The Washington Post
“The majority of our employees are FAA employees. There was no secret around here about how disenchanted National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) workers were for not having a contract for five years. One of our first goals was to reach a contract, which we did within 100 days of my being sworn in.
“Reaching that goal, and satisfying that number of employees, set us on a course that people understood, that showed that we care about our employees. It felt like it was a very good giant first step.”